Usually when I read Bleacher Report, I read some decent writing that isn't spectacularly bad or spectacularly good, but a lot of what is on the site consists of poorly researched, not well-thought out editorials. That's what dominates my mind when I think of the site and that's pretty much what we have for today. Let me digress for a minute if you will.
There are already 2012-2013 college basketball way too early preseason polls on the Internet. I have a really hard time ignoring these polls. I think preseason polls in themselves are stupid and there shouldn't be an official poll in college football until 3 weeks into the season. Me being who I am, I absolutely can't ignore these college basketball polls no matter how hard I try. It's nearly impossible for me to do so. I'm easily baited like that. Way too early preseason polls generally have two major faults in my opinion:
1. They overrate what just occurred in the NCAA Tournament. This isn't done intentionally of course, but it's natural to pay greater attention to a team's latest game. That's why a UConn team that lost its best player was ranked in the Top 10 of 2011-2012 preseason polls.
2. They overrate the impact of incoming freshmen on a team. It may sound crazy to say this coming off a year where freshmen led the University of Kentucky to a national title, and they are the exception, but a team will generally get a boost in ranking because they have a good recruiting class coming in. There are talented freshmen every year, but many times the poll will overrate the impact incoming freshmen will have on the team.
For examples of these team faults, take a look at the way too early preseason poll from CollegeBasketballTalk. I'm not denying some of these teams in the poll are correct. Overall you do see a trend of some teams being overranked based on these two faults I described above.
Indiana is #1 overall based on their performance last year and five freshmen who will handle "depth and athleticism." Indiana has a really good class coming in, but they have zero top 25 recruits and only three of their guys are in ESPN's Top 100 rankings. So yes, it is a good class, but they are still freshmen and not considered an elite freshmen class. In two years, could this be a great Indiana class that will form an elite team? Of course, it could very well happen, but Indiana's fate next year lies in how this past year's current team develops and what roles these freshmen are able to take on to help the team. This Hoosiers freshmen class will most likely help the 2012-2013 Hoosiers team become elite rather than be the reason the team has become elite.
N.C. State is #4 in the poll. This is an N.C. State team that was on the bubble until the very minute the NCAA Tourney pairings were announced this year. They were a fairly inconsistent team all year and weren't even really the 4th best team in a weak ACC. They make a Sweet 16 run, have three excellent freshmen come in, all of a sudden they are a Top 5 team. Funny how that happens isn't it? I'm not sure this means N.C. State really is a Top 5 team. They are still returning the same team that was an inconsistent bubble team until the end of the season and freshmen aren't exactly known for providing a consistent effort on a nightly basis. So talent wise they will be of great use, but I can see this team still being somewhat of a mystery. So while I think this is a talented N.C. State team, I'm not completely convinced the NCAA Tournament run by the Wolfpack will be replicated over a full season. But hey, they have a good recruiting class coming in and they won two games in the NCAA Tourney so they get moved up in the minds of the college basketball experts.
I'm not going to go through every single one. You get my point. It even occurred to me this happened before the 2011-2012 season. Here are two 2011-2012 preseason polls. The teams that were missed in this poll, why were they missed? Let's look at a couple. First, let's look at UConn.
Outlook: The loss of Kemba Walker hurts, obviously. But Jim Calhoun still has a roster more talented from top to bottom than the roster that won last season's national championship. Lamb could be the Big East Player of the Year, and Drummond, a late and surprising addition, has all the physical tools to dominate at the college level and challenge UK's Davis for the top spot in next June's NBA Draft.
So they are going to be good because they won the national title last year and they have a good freshman coming in. It sounds logical, but it also ignores that UConn wasn't a great team for the entire 2010-2011 season until they caught fire and (deservedly) won the national title. So an above average team lost its best player and added a talented freshmen and they move to being a Top 5 team for the 2011-2012 season. It was a bit of an assumption at the time that Andre Drummond could step in and dominate with Jeremy Lamb taking over the role as main scorer. This UConn team never quite put it all together, which in retrospect should not surprise us all much. Sure, it's easy to see this stuff in retrospect, but I think this is a lesson we can use to learn for the upcoming year too.
2nd year SG Jeremy Lamb is a budding superstar, surrounded by ferocious rebounder Alex Oriakhi, and Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith from the perimeter. Coach Calhoun decided to return and brings with him an outstanding freshman class led by potential #1 Draft pick Andre Drummond, highly touted SF DeAndre Daniels, and PG Ryan Boatright.
Again, this team won the national title the year before, only lost their best player, but add in talented freshmen. Winning combo, right? Unfortunately, for UConn fans it wasn't a winning combo.
Arizona had just come off a NCAA Tourney run and was bringing in (wait for it...) a great recruiting class,
Outlook: Sean Miller lost the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, Derrick Williams, but he has plenty of pieces back and welcomes in a strong freshman class, led by the backcourt of Turner and Johnson.
Everyone from that NCAA Tourney team returns and a strong recruiting class. Sounds like a great deal, right? What can go wrong with a strong recruiting class of freshmen? Other than we have no idea how they will adapt to the college game of course and the team its best player of course.
After suffering heavy losses due to graduation, transfers, or Derrick Williams leaving early for the NBA, many would think Coach Miller would be in for a long year. But thanks to a Top 5 rated recruiting class led by out of this world PG prospect Josiah Turner, elite SG Nick Johnson, and imposing big men Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson, many are calling the Cats the Kentucky of the West.
Here comes talk of those freshmen again. It's almost like writers forget these freshmen often play like freshmen. Arizona has another great recruiting class this year and are being highly ranked in some way too early rankings. They may meet these high expectations this year, but I know one Pac-10 team that won't...
Now for UCLA, who was ranked #13 in one way too early preseason poll,
After losing another two underclassmen(Honeycutt and Lee) early to the NBA, it would appear that the Bruins would have another mediocre year. That’s not the case since Coach Howland always recruits well and returns 8 of his top 10 scorers in addition to finally having the use of once highly touted Wear twins, who transferrred from UNC one year ago. 300lb imposing center Josh Smith, along with the underrated Reeves Nelson, and the Wears wil solidify the frontcourt, while the returning Lazeric Jones, Tyler Lamb, and one of the nation’s best freshman SG’s Norman Powell will bolster the perimeter.
This seemed silly even at the time. The Wear twins couldn't crack UNC's rotation when they were that Top 10 team, but they are supposed to lead UCLA to becoming the #13 team just a year after they transfer? Logically, that doesn't make sense to me. Of course, the Bruins do have that freshman, Normal Powell, that will help so much.
As far as this year goes, UCLA is highly ranked based simply on the fact they have Shabazz Muhammad, Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson coming in. This is a 19-14 team who is adding three freshmen, who will transform them into a Top 10 caliber team. I'm sorry if I don't believe this quite yet. UCLA already has chemistry issues and I'm not entirely convinced these three freshmen will work together well. As talented as Shabazz Muhammad is, he doesn't make his teammates better because he doesn't like to pass. He isn't greedy, but when that ball goes in his hands, it has a hard time finding other players...at least at the high school level this is true. So a lot of UCLA's success will ride on Kyle Anderson (who is a freshman by the way) running the show and getting all the Bruins players involved. Then there is Tony Parker, who is going to be fighting with the equally chubby Josh Smith for touches in the post. I like Parker as a player, but I think the combination of he and Smith is either going to be brilliant or blow up completely. Throw in Larry Drew II, who Ben Howland must have agreed to sign out of sheer desperation, and you have the makings for an interesting chemistry experiment at UCLA. The 2010-2011 UNC basketball team absolutely took off in a positive direction after Larry Drew II quit the team and Harrison Barnes started playing more up to his potential when Drew left. This isn't a coincidence. But hey, the Bruins have three top recruits, they should be really good this year and none of this matters, right?
I'm afraid I'm getting off my point, but hopefully you can see where I am coming from. Way too early preseason polls have their faults. That brings me to the Bleacher Report article for today. It is about why Duke basketball is on its way down. I know everyone hates Duke and that's fine, but this is so poorly written I think through the intense hatred of Duke you will still enjoy it. This article was written before 2012 Top 25 recruit Amile Jefferson committed to Duke. So while I won't hold this against the author, I think it goes to show how misguided and reactive this column truly is since the author claims Duke can't get big-time recruits anymore.
This article is part of an overreaction to Duke's loss to Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament. This type of overreaction to Lehigh seems to be the trend. The Big Lead had a way too early Top 25 that left Duke out of the Top 25 entirely. This is silly. Duke doesn't have a right to be in the Top 25, but they are a 27 win team bringing back every single player except for one starter and the backup center. The author had written a previous Top 25 (prior to the early NBA Draft entries being announced) and he had Duke at #25 under the assumption Mason Plumlee was gone. Of course, once Plumlee announces he will come back to Duke for his senior year Duke naturally drops out of the updated Top 25.
The author of The Big Lead way too early preseason poll also completely left Missouri out of the Top 25 in his original poll. That's a 30 win team returning three starters and Lawrence Bowers that AREN'T a Top 25 team? I'm sure he did this because Missouri lost to Norfolk State in the NCAA Tourney. So after leaving Missouri out of the Top 25 completely, they sign Alex Oriakhi to play for them next year and they are now #6 in the updated Top 25. That's quite a leap to make based on the signing of one player. This poll did nothing to contradict my idea that way too early preseason polls focus too much on a team's result from the previous season and incoming recruits.
So my larger point was a 27 win team was left out of the Top 25 for reasons unknown and now a Bleacher Report article has stated it is the beginning of the end for Duke basketball. This is just a ridiculous overreaction to the end of the year loss to Lehigh.
Let's start the slideshow and review some poor research!
Sporting four national titles and 11 Final Fours under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils have been the class of the nation for decades.
I don't know about "the class" of the nation. That seems like an exaggeration. They have been very good for a while now. There have been equally as good or better programs over the last few decades.
Now, however, an unprecedented fall in the 2012 NCAA Tournament has sent the program into a sense of disarray.
No, the program isn't been sent into a sense of disarray. One game doesn't affect an entire program's future. Duke is returning every single starter except one, they have four seniors, and are adding two Top 25 recruits. They won't win the national title this year, but they have the core of last year's team back. They'll be fine. Quit trolling.
As the 2012-13 season rapidly approaches, we take a look at why the Blue Devils will continue their descent from glory.
Let's do this, except please know you are completely wrong about everything you are about to write. I say this not as a fan of Duke, but as a fan of logic and well-reasoned arguments.
Recruiting Slowing Down
Duke didn't have that many scholarships for the incoming 2012 class in the first place. So it isn't like they needed go to out and get a 4-5 man class. The roster will consist of 4 seniors, two juniors, 1 sophomore, and 4 freshmen. The freshmen are two redshirt freshmen and two Top 25 2012 recruits. Because they had two guys redshirting, a large class wasn't a necessity. Ignoring whether these four freshmen are able to help out this year, recruiting isn't slowing down.
With his assistance, the Blue Devils have pulled in just over three recruits in the five previous years that were ranked as 3-star recruits or better
The creator of grammar, Lord Cornelius Homestead Von Grammar cries in sadness at the grammar and sentence structure used in this sentence. The way this abomination reads, Duke has pulled in three recruits total over the past five years that were ranked 3-star or better. This is clearly inaccurate. What this sentence is intended to mean is Duke has pulled in on average three recruits every year that are 3-star or better over a span of the past five years. Simply put, this means nothing. Duke has two five-star recruits coming in this year and already have nine other scholarship players. In fact, Duke just had a player transfer because he wanted more playing time and thought he was blocked. Recruiting isn't slowing down.
This offseason, however, Duke has just one commitment in 5-star prospect Rasheed Suliamon, a disappointing amount considering signing day as already passed.
In reality, Duke also has two redshirt freshmen who will join the team this year. They should be included as part of this recruiting class as well. Both redshirt freshmen (Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy) are four-star recruits. Those two players should be considered part of the freshman class also. The 2013 class already has one four-star commit (#28 overall) Matt Jones. Missing out on big name recruits like probably will happen with Tony Parker and did happen with Shabazz Muhammad is disappointing, but isn't a death sentence for the program. Big name programs miss out on top recruits all the time.
Also, signing day had not passed when this article was written. Otherwise, someone needs to tell Anthony Bennett, Tony Parker and Amile Jefferson they aren't going to be playing college basketball this season because they all signed after this article was written.
the rise of some new basketball powers will continue to cause Duke some problems in the future acquiring big-time recruits.
This is nothing but pure speculation. I'd love to hear about these new basketball powers that will cause Duke specifically problems with acquiring big-time recruits. Which new basketball powers, that won't affect any other power college basketball programs, are going to affect Duke so badly? We don't get any suggestions or follow up on this comment. This is because the author is just talking out of his ass. If there are new basketball powers that will cause Duke problems with recruiting wouldn't this also affect other programs as well?
Fell Apart in the Big Games
For all my time watching college basketball, Duke almost always seemed to be the squad on the sending side of those clutch performances.
Really? Just in the last few years I can think of the following non-clutch performances, and this is just in the NCAA Tourney:
-Almost losing to #15 seeded Belmont in the 2008 NCAA Tourney.
-Getting their ass kicked by Villanova in the 2009 NCAA Tourney.
-Getting their ass kicked by Arizona in the 2011 NCAA Tourney.
Duke hasn't always come out on the winning side of clutch performances. I'm pretty sure Derrick Williams is still dreaming of draining 3-point shots against Duke's porous defense. It's pure hyperbole to suggest Duke always came out on top with clutch performances.
Over the course of the past year, however, I was surprised to see the Blue Devils on the receiving end of upsets.
Well, it is only an upset if you are a highly ranked team. So if a team is highly ranked, pretty much any loss is an upset. The fact Duke is still highly ranked means the team doesn't seem to be falling that quickly.
Only the amazing comeback victory over North Carolina stands out to me on the season, and that was mostly due to the fantastic play of freshman Austin Rivers.
Beating Kansas and Michigan on a neutral court doesn't count? Beating Florida State at Florida State doesn't count?
For example, the Blue Devils were completely overpowered against No. 2 Ohio State, surprised by A-10 champion Temple, upset at home by both Miami and Florida State
They also beat Big 10 champ Michigan State and beat ACC champ Florida State at Florida State.
and then completely owned by No. 15 seed Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament.
"Completely owned" is probably an overstatement. They did get their asses beat though. To be fair, they were missing Ryan Kelly who was their third leading scorer and third leading rebounder. No excuses, but he played the part of the "stretch four" and in Duke's offense that is an important position in the offense. Still, they did lose. This loss doesn't carryover to the 2012-2013 season. I hope this is understood that losses from one season don't always carry over to the next season.
Duke may be a brilliant program with a storied history, but for any season to be a success, the team must pull out more than just one big win.
So what does this have to do with Duke's impending downfall for the very next season?
In fact, I believe that coming out victorious in over half of the big games is a key to true triumph.
This is a completely arbitrary number, but I'll play your little game. Let's look at all "big games," which I would define as a tournament game, a game against a ranked opponent or a game against a strong out-of-conference opponent, for the 2011-2012 season and see how Duke did:
11/15/11: Michigan State (W)
11/18/11: Davidson (W)
11/21/11: Tennessee (W)
11/22/11: Michigan (W)
11/23/11: Kansas (W)
11/29/11: Ohio State (L)
1/4/12: Temple (L)
1/12/12: Virginia (W)
1/21/12: Florida State (L)
2/8/12: UNC (W)
2/23/12: Florida State (W)
3/3/12: UNC (L)
3/9/12: Florida State (L)
3/16/12: Lehigh (L)
So in "big games" this year Duke went 8-5. Even if you take out Virginia and Davidson, they are still over .500 in "big games" at 7-6. The author has absolutely no point even using his own arbitrary criteria.
Counted on Talent Over Experience
I may be one of the few who actually still believes that experience is a key element in victory.
No, you are not. Other people believe this as well.
This belief has spread all around the sport, rooting itself in programs such as Ohio State, Baylor and, obviously, Kentucky.
So all that talk about how Duke needs to recruit better, well fuck all that noise. Duke needs more experience and doesn't need to recruit any better. The author has changed his mind. The lack of a strong recruiting class, which consist of incoming freshmen, shouldn't even be counted on any way. The key element of a team's success is experience. The 2012-2013 roster has four seniors who were on a national title team and two juniors. So they do have experience and are counting on the talent of this experience to win games.
Duke has also become infected with this dangerous thought process, seeing more merit in recruiting than in development.
And this post has been slapped with the "contradiction in action" tag. I thought Duke wasn't recruiting well enough to prevent a major downfall? Now they are recruiting TOO MUCH and too well, so this will cause their downfall. I'm not entirely sure if the author is even entirely sure what point he is trying to prove. One minute Duke needs to recruit better to succeed, the next minute the author decides experience is the key to a team's success and Duke needs to count on their recruits less and rely more on experience.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, however, their strategy of relying on big shot true freshman Austin Rivers didn't work as well as Kentucky's.
No, the strategy worked very well. What didn't work was relying on anyone outside of Austin Rivers and Mason Plumlee to shoot well over the last couple weeks of the season. Without Ryan Kelly, Duke needed scoring and those who needed to step up (Seth Curry/Andre Dawkins) didn't step up. It's really that simple.
If Krzyzewski desires to have any more success on the court in the future, he must go back to developing his players instead of counting on "one-and-done" freshmen.
How about he fields a team with four seniors and two juniors on it this year? Wouldn't that be great? Wait, that's the 2012-2013 team! It's almost like after the 2009-2010 season where Duke had three seniors and two juniors in the lineup and after the 2010-2011 season where Duke has two seniors in the starting lineup, the 2011-2012 team was an outlier in terms of having one senior and counting overwhelmingly on scoring from underclassmen. Don't bother. I'll do the research for you.
Krzyzewski Has Reached His Peak
Yes, he is 65 years old. He certainly isn't still peaking.
Every player, coach and franchise has its peak, the point at which their power, influence and domination is at its highest. However, once that summit is reached, there is only one direction to go.
Now in this scenario are there no assistant coaches on the bench who are in any way capable of effectively running a team or helping to run a team? Also, is Coach K not aware of his own burgeoning limitations and continues to coach past his prime?
Duke's fate walks hand-in-hand with Krzyzewski's, meaning that as he descends from his place atop the college basketball world, so will the Blue Devils.
Wow, that's news to UNC. They survived pretty well after Dean Smith retired. I'm pretty sure they've won a couple national championships since that time. One would think UNC's fate walked hand-in-hand with Dean Smith's fate, but reality didn't match this theory.
While one bad postseason is hardly enough evidence to suggest that Coach K is nearing the end of his career,
But yet it is plenty evidence to write an entire slideshow suggesting the entire Duke program is on its way down. Funny how this works.
the many factors mentioned before are a slight confirmation of what is coming in the near future.
No, they aren't. The many factors mentioned before are a slight confirmation that you don't know what you are talking about. No one knows what will happen in the future. Duke could have a bad year next year, they could have a good year. The author says recruiting is a problem, then says Duke needs to stop relying on recruiting. He says Duke lost in big games, and even if this is true, doesn't necessarily mean anything from one season to the next. Don't overreact to one loss. The good news is this slideshow got you attention, so that's worth something, right?